RIP Karen Black

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As seen over on the Rolling RIP thread:

https://www.facebook.com/stephen.eckelberry/posts/10151524884835178

Felt she deserved her own thread.

A blog update from just yesterday

Uncle Cyril O'Boogie (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:31 (seven years ago) link

My first acquaintance with her was in The Great Gatsby in which she's directed so badly that I thought it was on purpose. Then I saw her in Five Easy Pieces and while she's better it's not clear that we're supposed to sympathize with her (i.e. it's Jack playing the anti-hero). I need to watch it again.

How is she in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean?

first I think it's time I kick a little verse! (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:37 (seven years ago) link

pretty good, for what it is, which is a shittily filmed play.

joe schmoladoo from 7-11 (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:38 (seven years ago) link

bummmmmmer :( she was great

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:39 (seven years ago) link

also the first thing I saw her in where I was aware of who she was/recognized her

but yeah this is a bummer RIP

joe schmoladoo from 7-11 (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:39 (seven years ago) link

I've written so much about '70s films on here--been (correctly) ridiculed for being a cheerleader--that this counts as a huge death. It's really only Five Easy Pieces and Nashville that I'm partial to, but she's definitive in both. And obviously there were lots of other important films, starting with Easy Rider. Don't think she could have been big at any moment other than when she was.

clemenza, Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:39 (seven years ago) link

oh yeah! She's terrific in Nashville.

first I think it's time I kick a little verse! (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:44 (seven years ago) link

And obviously there were lots of other important films, starting with Easy Rider.

Don't forget her "Good Girl" role in You're A Big Boy Now! Her debut, iirc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S01aa8IMDIs

Uncle Cyril O'Boogie (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:44 (seven years ago) link

She pushes Rayette right up to the line in Five Easy Pieces--she's so annoying, you can understand why Nicholson climbs into the truck at the end--but I do think you're supposed to hate the way Nicholson treats her. (Similar to Jeannie Berlin's character in The Heartbreak Kid.) My favorite moment of hers is when she pretends to remember Barbara Harris in Nashville, and carries it off with such well-rehearsed insincerity, you almost believe her. ("And do I remember what I said?")

clemenza, Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:49 (seven years ago) link

"And do you," that should read.

clemenza, Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:50 (seven years ago) link

"She can't even comb her hair!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6jZWmyNNpU

Uncle Cyril O'Boogie (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:55 (seven years ago) link

You got me--I think that's my favourite moment.

She made a creepy horror film up here, too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buw9QnkELCM

clemenza, Thursday, 8 August 2013 21:55 (seven years ago) link

As I head out, I leave you with the elephant in the room:

http://s.mcstatic.com/thumb/7760366/21035816/4/flash_player/0/1/airport_1975_1974_talking_to_control_part_2.jpg?v=4

clemenza, Thursday, 8 August 2013 22:01 (seven years ago) link

^I had wanted to do a poll thread on her here for awhile, but was too lazy to get it together. I had a title though: "The Stewardess Is POLLING The Plane!"

Uncle Cyril O'Boogie (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 8 August 2013 22:05 (seven years ago) link

looking through her imdb list is astonishing, its just a huge prolific career with basically no dead spots, which is amazing, esp for an actress that got started in the late 60s

waterface down (jjjusten), Thursday, 8 August 2013 22:10 (seven years ago) link

and yeah theres some not awesome stuff in there, but the important thing is that she was working basically straight through up until this year

waterface down (jjjusten), Thursday, 8 August 2013 22:10 (seven years ago) link

My favorite Karen Black:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aM-PeBnCLx4

not some dude poking a Line 6 pedal with his dick (sarahell), Thursday, 8 August 2013 22:13 (seven years ago) link

Trilogy of Terror (Milton's link) is also pretty awesome

not some dude poking a Line 6 pedal with his dick (sarahell), Thursday, 8 August 2013 22:14 (seven years ago) link

shit

As yet unmentioned: The Day of the Locust.

It's sort of unimaginable to me that she was 74, but she didn't get lots of film work til she was 30.

Miss Arlington twirls for the Coal Heavers (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 8 August 2013 22:14 (seven years ago) link

enshrined forever in the hearts of horror geeks for Burnt Offerings

waterface down (jjjusten), Thursday, 8 August 2013 22:16 (seven years ago) link

I loved her in Rubin and Ed.

polyphonic, Thursday, 8 August 2013 22:16 (seven years ago) link

Croosunts!!!!

not some dude poking a Line 6 pedal with his dick (sarahell), Thursday, 8 August 2013 22:29 (seven years ago) link

She was also surprisingly game in Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses .

Here's the storify, of a lovely ladify (Phil D.), Thursday, 8 August 2013 22:36 (seven years ago) link

Aw damn :(
RIP strange-eyed lady

Sir Lord Baltimora (Myonga Vön Bontee), Thursday, 8 August 2013 23:12 (seven years ago) link

Zuni attack doll is still the scariest thing I have ever experienced on a screen.

Spot Lange (Jon Lewis), Thursday, 8 August 2013 23:22 (seven years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI-RB9FDI3Q

tokyo rosemary, Saturday, 10 August 2013 02:14 (seven years ago) link

ty

MAVEN (Matt P), Saturday, 10 August 2013 03:53 (seven years ago) link

enshrined forever in the hearts of horror geeks for Burnt Offerings

That's always the first thing I think of when I hear her name. Voluptuous horror.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Saturday, 10 August 2013 04:10 (seven years ago) link

Rayette in Five Easy Pieces always seemed to me like a misogynist conceit of Bob Rafelson's and little more, I have to admit. she's pretty affecting in Nashville, though her song is terrible. her favorite performance of mine might be in born to win, an extremely depressive/ing film about junkies. (robert deniro is in the movie for about 10 minutes and they always put his ugly mug on the DVD covers.)

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Saturday, 10 August 2013 04:15 (seven years ago) link

(I think Five Easy Pieces has dated worse than almost any major film of the "Hollywood Renaissance," except maybe The Rain People)

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Saturday, 10 August 2013 04:16 (seven years ago) link

Could not disagree more.

I should have added Cisco Pike as another film of hers I really like.

clemenza, Saturday, 10 August 2013 04:19 (seven years ago) link

The scene in 5EP that hasn't aged well is Jack telling off all the grotesque strawmen at the family compound.

Miss Arlington twirls for the Coal Heavers (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 10 August 2013 05:23 (seven years ago) link

That scene, absolutely. I'd even like to think I would have found it obvious and clumsy and too easy by half the day the film came out. (Black does fine, though--if I remember correctly, there's something touching about the way she tries to avoid a confrontation.) The rest of the movie is close to perfect, I'd say.

A much better version of the same scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3aSzFEoMMc

clemenza, Saturday, 10 August 2013 07:54 (seven years ago) link

The scene in 5EP that hasn't aged well is Jack telling off all the grotesque strawmen at the family compound.

...where he defends Rayette against them. The scene's there for Jack to finally take a side, rejecting his family's lot in favor of his Wynette-lovin', greasy spoon waitressin' babymama. Which of course is undermined a few scenes later when he decides he doesn't like her so much either.

As plot mechanisms go, I have no problem with it.

Uncle Cyril O'Boogie (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 10 August 2013 08:09 (seven years ago) link

Kent Jones' essay for the Criterion 5EP is superb.

Uncle Cyril O'Boogie (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 10 August 2013 08:19 (seven years ago) link

I watched the scene again. I was wrong about Black trying to smooth things over--I must be thinking of another scene where she says something like "That's okay, it's alright" (dinner with Bobby's family?). But I do find her affecting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nfoP3bmd1c

Nicholson's fine too--his contempt feels genuine--and even Anspach is good. The problem is the woman: grotesque strawman indeed. The people in the Elvis scene are caricatures too, but at least that's played for laughs. A passage from Stanley Kauffmann I've always liked (he's not addressing Five Easy Pieces specifically, may not have even had it in mind--the decadent/pretentious/vapid Party Scene was a staple of the late '60s/early '70s, going back to La Dolce Vita, I guess), but I think it applies. He's reviewing Desperate Characters: "And Gilroy has given us a party scene that, for once, doesn't try to be the epitome of the Rotten and Superficial, it's just a party."

Will read the Kent Jones piece.

clemenza, Saturday, 10 August 2013 15:23 (seven years ago) link

I should add that Kauffmann gave Five Easy Pieces probably the best review from a major critic that it got at the time, and I believe he ended up putting it on a list he made of the 10 best American films from 1968-1977.

clemenza, Saturday, 10 August 2013 15:25 (seven years ago) link

and they just hadda put Ralph Waite in a neck brace

Miss Arlington twirls for the Coal Heavers (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 10 August 2013 15:54 (seven years ago) link

Black is great in that role tho, for sure

Miss Arlington twirls for the Coal Heavers (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 10 August 2013 15:54 (seven years ago) link

seven years pass...

Archival Music Album Coming:

https://shop.mexicansummer.com/product/karen-black-dreaming-of-you/

blue whales on ambient (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 19 May 2021 20:20 (two months ago) link

two months pass...

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